When I started out as a cub reporter 22 years ago covering a small Wisconsin city while in graduate school, it never struck me that municipal politics would suck the marrow from my intellectual skeleton.
Fascinated by photography, caught up in philosophy and history, it seemed to me that journalism was a worthy expenditure of a finite life already partially wasted on rock and roll and cut into further by a sentence to three years in a Lebanese prison for smuggling hashish. Beaten up by U.S. agents abroad, locked in an underground cell and denied basic human rights, even a smuggler at last comes to the realization that the rule of law is the only factor setting civilization apart from barbarianism.
I have not let my personal life come between my work and me. I work in a garage day and night chronicling so-called 'official acts.' I'm separated from my children and my work makes it impossible for anyone to expect me to have a relationship with them. I try to undo injustice. I get angry and frustrated. But I have never let you down and I don't ask for anything but an open mind. This is the plea of a philosopher working as a reporter.
We come Thursday [Aug. 6] to a point at which civilization and barbarianism slug it out at the ballot box, and you are the referee.
I'm asking you to trust me here, to help me satisfy myself that I have not suffered the sacrifices of journalism without impacting the life of my readers. The only pay back to someone whose professional life has been dedicated to monitoring government and officials is when voters use the information generated by that professional life and vote correctly.
What does it mean to vote correctly? Let's go into that.
'Voting' is about electing public officials; about staffing the apparatus of government upon which we depend for the administration of justice, for the provision of public health and housing, for fairness in the application of the rules by which we are all living.
It is beyond my sense of my position in your community to assume you care what I think about particular candidates, but certainly some office holders have shown qualities that are inconsistent with justice and fairness in the administration of the public's business. I have worked for more than 22 years to stop blatant theft and abuse of power by incumbents. I have no reason to believe that any challenger will be any better than any incumbent, but I offer you facts that you might take into account when deciding for whom to vote.
If you vote to advance your own standing in the community, this information will not interest you.
However, I ask you now to look at these stories and ask yourself whether voting for certain incumbents would be 'correct' if your goal is a just, honest government.